A booby trap was a kind of a snare invented by British sailors in the 1850s to catch a particularly stupid kind of seabird-called a booby. Duh.
No. Not that kind of booby.
During the Second World War “booby trap” was broadened to mean any hidden device that could kill you if you picked it up, or moved it or stepped on it or into it. But the term particularly applied to the nasty trick of stretching a length of piano wire across a road at a height of about four and a half feet. The idea was that if a jeep with its windshield down or a motorcyclist came down that road, the wire would catch them right about neck high and take off their heads.
Cable Company Booby Traps
Cable companies are still doing the same thing to motorcyclists. The wire is thicker so it is easier to spot. It is usually not stretched tight. It is usually sagging down across the street. It does not happen every day but it is still common enough that some fraction of bikers have had a rude word or two with a cable installer sometime in the last few years.
Comcast Cable in New Britain, Connecticut finally got one of us.
According to published and broadcast reports, a 46-year-old woman was traveling north on Stanley Street on her motorcycle two weeks ago when she saw one of those cables looping across the road in front of her.
She told police that she estimated that the cable was about, you guessed it, four and a half feet off the ground. The cable installer was on a ladder nearby so he had the best seat in the house. The woman could not tell if the cable was going up, down or just hanging there. She panicked, dropped the bike and injured her leg.
No Malicious Intent
New Britain police determined that the cable installer had caused the accident but they did not charge or cite him because there was “no malicious intent.” You might want to file that defense away in your head. No intent, no problem.
The legal term for no intent, no problem is mens rea. You know, just in case you get a public defender and you have to teach the law to him.
Police Chief William Gagliardi told the New Britain Herald, “It’s obvious that there was no intent. He just didn’t get it (the booby trap) up higher in time.”
Comcast propagandists also want everyone to know that nothing really happened and if it did Comcast is absolutely, positively, 100 percent innocent. “We take this situation very seriously,” Comcast spokeswoman Kristen Roberts told the Herald. “Safety is of the utmost importance to Comcast and we provide the proper tools and training to all employees, particularly our technicians, to ensure safe working conditions for both themselves and the public. We’re working closely with local authorities as they investigate the incident.”